This week’s poem needs to be read out loud. I could write that every single week, but it’s especially true for this poem in which the sentences are filled with rhythm and sounds chiming back and forth, telling us we are in the land of poetry. In reading it out loud, you might hear that, as it offers us a scene of some teenagers riding in a motorboat, this poem also wants to tell us something about how poetry itself “declaims a music of the older sort.”

Keith Dunlap lives in Portland and his first collection of poems “Storyland” was published by Hip Pocket Press in 2016.

Motorboat Motorboat

By Keith Dunlap

We cannot see the craft,

but only hear the sizzling drum

of its gas-fired engine

ricocheting off the top of every tree-shagged mountain

that shoulders this ancient glacial pond.

It declaims a music of the older sort:

flat benches strewn with stale cushions

and the rot of algae, dust, and motor oil;

a few desultory teenagers spilled around

its cavity like prisoners ferried

from town to town for unessential punitive tasks;

one letting his fingers scrape the corrugated glass

of the lake; another shouting a story,

which no one else can quite comprehend,

about how once he almost drowned

when his feet got tangled in a towline.

The others do not care that his words are mutilated

in the noisy air. They are content to be barely clothed

inside a motorboat as it bounces along,

like a skipping stone chucked toward its inevitable

who knows where.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is a poet who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright 2017 Keith Dunlap. It appeared originally in The Baltimore Review in 2017 and appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to

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